On the cutting edge

A roundup of instrumentation, software and other tools and technology news

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Collaborative informatics software, an antibody discovery workflow platform, cloud-based scientific intelligence, isothermal microcalorimetry technology and solutions to boost clinical trials are all on tap this month as we enter into spring.

Agilent announces major university client for informatics software
SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Agilent Technologies Inc. in early March announced that Tufts University has adopted its OpenLAB software suite for enterprise data acquisition, management and sharing among researchers on the university’s three Massachusetts campuses. Agilent OpenLAB software allows principal investigators (PIs) to make data available to the public upon request while protecting the data at the same time. It also allows PIs to carry out “best practice” data management plans—the scalable, open-architecture OpenLAB suite consists of three integrated components: a chromatography data system, electronic lab notebook and enterprise content management.
Prof. Albert Robbat, a member of the evaluation and implementation team, expects OpenLAB to comply with mandates specified by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and other U.S. agencies.
“OpenLAB is a comprehensive informatics suite that can bring differentiated value to university research and teaching,” said John Sadler, general manager of Agilent’s software and informatics business. “Agilent’s ability to offer a total informatics solution distinguishes us from the competition.”

Boehringer Ingelheim selects Genedata Biologics
BASEL, Switzerland—Seeking to integrate and streamline workflows for protein therapeutics R&D groups across multiple sites, Boehringer Ingelheim recently chose Genedata Biologics from Swiss company Genedata as its global biologics R&D workflow and data management platform. The Genedata Biologics platform will support multiple Boehringer Ingelheim R&D groups in the United States and Europe, including lead identification and screening, lead optimization and engineering and protein production groups across Boehringer Ingelheim’s new biological entities centers.
“Our Biotherapeutics Research division required a central system to support the complex and interconnected workflows in our large-molecule discovery units,” said Dr. Miguel Teodoro, head of IT Research at Boehringer Ingelheim. “We undertook a thorough selection process to find the best antibody workflow platform, and Genedata Biologics was the obvious choice. We believe Genedata Biologics will help us to accelerate our antibody discovery programs as we develop the next generation of biologics drugs.”
Genedata Biologics streamlines biopharma discovery operations by integrating workflows and data from diverse research processes and antibody discovery platforms, such as phage and yeast display, hybridomas and B-cells, as well as downstream expression, purification and analytics. Genedata Biologics reportedly reduces data capture and reporting time by 50 percent and significantly improves candidate quality through standardized and automated data integrity analysis.

Code-N to provide cloud-based scientific intelligence
HERNDON, Va. & MENLO PARK, Calif.—Exostar, an information technology company offering cloud-based solutions that enable secure, cost-effective business-to-business collaboration, and Code-N today announced that Code-N will connect its cloud-based solutions to Exostar’s Life Sciences Identity Hub. By joining Exostar’s partner program as an application partner, Code-N ensures its competitive profiler, drug repurposing and safety solutions can be securely accessed by organizations and individuals who are members of Exostar’s rapidly expanding life-sciences and healthcare community.
Exostar’s Life Sciences Identity Hub is said to be highly secure for sensitive information and intellectual property while promoting productivity with seamless access to multiple next-generation life-science technology solutions like Code-N’s.
“Code-N’s suite of solutions allow life-science organizations to instantly track their competitors and new entrants, repurpose drugs and identify safety issues before going to trials,” said Daniel Pfeifle, Exostar’s vice president of sales and marketing. “By partnering with Exostar and connecting to our Life Sciences Identity Hub, Code-N will increase the potential of these solutions dramatically. At the same time, scientists in the Exostar community will have another valuable solution at their fingertips.”

Symcel’s technology opens new avenues in oncology
KISTA, Sweden—Symcel announced recently that published scientific data in The Biotechnology Journal shows CalScreener, its isothermal microcalorimetry label-free well-plate assay, provides the increased throughput needed to accurately detect tumorous microtissues, bacteria and parasitic worms while providing real-time biological data.
The company says its “groundbreaking” CalScreener system, equipped with a novel vessel holder similar to a 48-well plate, provides the increased throughput essential for use in bioassays. The recently published findings, Symcel says, should help to open up multiple new research avenues across cancer research, diagnostics and the development of new antitumor drugs.
According to Symcel, the new screening approach, when applied to the susceptibility of tumors to antitumor agents, provides a cost-saving alternative for selecting the best possible chemotherapy and aids the development of personalized medicine. The label-free and passive nature of isothermal calorimetry makes possible accurate measurements on complex 3D structures like microtissues, solving a problem with conventional assays, such as DNA or protein quantification, which can’t be performed without the destruction of the tissues concerned.
For bacteria, the study results showed that the technology can determine both the growth rate and lag phase duration and can be applied to opaque samples like blood, stool or milk. In terms of parasitology, the low mass and high thermal conductivity of the microcalorimetric vials increase sensitivity to significantly higher levels than other instruments on the market, enabling accurate data to be gathered from single parasitic worms.
Christer Wallin, CEO of Symcel, commented, “We are delighted with the findings of the scientific data … our CalScreener technology has shown itself to be a highly accurate and reliable assay that monitors the metabolic activity of cancerous microtissues. Moreover, it represents a uniquely versatile technology since we are independent of cell morphology and can monitor cells in 2D, 3D as well as in tissue samples, bringing innovation to the life-science research market that is in such strong demand to bridge early in-vitro data to better predictive in-vivo models.”

BioClinica announces record eClinical growth in 2014
NEWTOWN, Pa.—BioClinica Inc., a specialty clinical trials services and technology provider, recently announced that 2014 was a record year for its eClinical technologies business unit, with sales soaring 51 percent above the previous year. BioClinica’s continuing growth is reportedly on trend with industry analysts’ projections that the eClinical market will reach $6.5 billion by 2020. Contracts inked with 25 new clients in 2014 expanded BioClinica’s eClinical base to more than 150 active customers; 40 percent of these organizations chose multiple BioClinica products to maximize efficiencies in their clinical trials.
“In addition to first-time clients, many existing customers expanded their use to multiple products,” said John Hubbard, CEO of BioClinica. “As the pharma and biotech industry retire outdated legacy systems, they are being replaced with BioClinica’s superior alternatives, which will serve them well into the future.”
Last year BioClinica also introduced several technology advances, including Compass, which reportedly enables sponsors to put underutilized clinical data to work and realize tangible benefits from risk-based monitoring. Compass is being adopted by several clients to help raise overall clinical trial quality while lowering risks and monitoring costs.
Another milestone in 2014 was the expansion of BioClinica’s Optimizer clinical supply forecasting and management tool into the Optimizer Enterprise Suite, broadening use for organizations of any size interested in optimizing their supply chains.

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